Overall I’ve found Tales of the Elder Days to be a great game. It plays smoothly, most of the rules and dice rolling is pretty intuitive. The game’s core mechanic is solid and easy to manage while still providing a range of success and failure, something I like in an RPG. Spells and traits play out much like they do in other games, giving plenty of options when character (and enemy) building.
As a GM I appreciate that the GM’s workload is not exacerbated by the rules, and I have found that prepping games for Tales of the Elder Days is relatively easy. Similarly, the rules don’t rely on gimmicks to get by and tend to make sense in context with each other. There’s a nice mix between hard and fast rules (so plenty of crunch) without being bogged down in minutia. While this isn’t likely to appeal to everyone, Tales of the Elder Days is definitely hitting the sweet spot between crunchy and fast-play that I am looking for in my games.
The book is organized well for use during the game, though maybe not entirely approachable for rookie gamers. The game seems to assume some familiarity with RPGs in general and doesn’t do much in the way of introducing folks to the hobby. That being said, I don’t think that new players would have trouble playing the game if they had a bit of a nudge in the right direction. (So, a veteran GM could include new players without trouble, but a group of folks trying to break into the hobby might struggle a bit to get up and running). Lists of spells and traits are compiled in their own sections, allowing easy reference during play, all in all it makes for a pretty good experience.
It’s also free, which is pretty great that you can check out the game without investing any cash, and in this case it seems to be actually free. There isn’t a paired down version that you get for free to urge you to buy a premium version. This is a full on RPG that can stand on its own and offer a robust gaming experience, not something you see all the time in the world of free digital RPGs. There is plenty of art in the book as well. Most of it seems to be stock art, and it is somewhat mismatched, but it offers some visual appeal at least. This isn’t just some word doc that was thrown online, it seems some serious effort went into this game.
Tales of the Elder days is going to be a win for those GMs out there that like to generate their own content, as it is easily customizable and has a lot of leeway for the GM to bring their own flavor to the game. It seems more and more that RPG’s are being rooted in specific settings and have game systems that specifically support the setting. Not necessarily a bad thing if you enjoy the setting, but in my case I really prefer to use my own homebrew settings, and in that respect Tales of the Elder Days is pretty much setting neutral, assuming you like to keep your games in the fantasy genre.
As a brand new game there is a bit of a gap as far as content goes, the bestiary and magic item lists are somewhat sparse, but those are easy remedies for those who prefer to write their own adventures, and here’s hoping that more content (monsters, magic, and modules) are on the way for Tales of the Elder Days!
[Repeated for the Digital listing as they are the same game]